Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year! New App! New You!

One of my big accomplishments in 2013 was to develop an App - with my partner in our Online Coaching Business called Solution Linx.  Now our focus is on marketing this app - how do we get people to click, try it out, provide reviews and share their ideas.

Part of this starts with creating a buzz - getting the word out there - and you can help!
There is always so much to learn, and we took this on without knowing what we were getting into - now we are reaching out - seeking experts who can help us make a difference because this App-thing is addictive - now that coaching is at our fingertips, there is an endless list of things we think we can do to make more apps that can help more people.

And it all started with a small idea, that grew - like the engine that could - the idea that grew.  And as technology is enabling us to keep dreaming and developing, so is the idea taking on new forms and formats.

What a wonderful world we live in.

Try out the Personal Growth, Professional Success or Health & Wellness App.

After all - it's a New Year!  A new App! and we are always focusing on improving ourselves - so a New You!  too.

All the best for 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Rearview Mirror of 2013

Before we dig into the New Year, we should really take a quick look in the rear view mirror to see how this past year, 2013, finished.

As leaders, looking in our rearview mirror - we much prefer to keep forging ahead.  So - we still need to  - this is where we can learn, recognize, reflect and refocus.

Here is what I have been looking at so that I can move ahead in new & BRAVE ways:

  • people who have improved, impacted or simply been a part of my work
  • work that took way to long and way to much energy  (what did I learn from that?)
  • new clients & new network connections
  • what I started
  • what I ended & why
  • the numbers - of course (.....I operate a private practice to make a living)
  • time spent in personal pursuits - not just work
  • events hosted, both professional and personal
  • my goal list for 2013 - how far did I get, what did I miss, what is no longer relevant (because we all know that does happen!)
It has been an enjoyable few weeks of planning for 2014...all by using that rearview mirror.

Enjoy the last days of the year 2013.....2014 is just around the corner and is bound to be even better, because as leaders, we are even better!

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Merriest of Merry

I love getting ready for this very busy time of year.  And now it is here.
I keep my coffee and cocoa (or mocha, or cinnamon tea) close while I think about the wonderful people that have come into my life this year 
- in person, online, in spirit and with heart.
You are why I do what I do.
I am truly grateful.

I wish you the merriest of Merry Christmas & the most wonderful blessings of the season.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bells on Bob Tail Ring?

It's the time of year where Christmas carols abound.  And I find myself tuning into the local 'all-Christmas, all the time' station and sing along (much to my kid's chagrin!).

Hearing the words from "Jingle Bells" I often wonder why many artists seem to butcher the lyrics in a specific line.  The line is 'bells on bob tail rings'...and I often hear 'bells on bob tails ring'.  I actually thought it should be 'bells on Bob's tail ring' - Bob being the horse.

With some Google searching and investigation, I have found that bob-tail is a short tail on a horse....so now I am confused.  Should I go with what it means, or should I stick to my own lyrics and let the artists get away with artistic license in their interpretation?  At the end of the day, the song is still fun to sing and gives great energy and spirit to the season, so does butchering it really matter.  The objective is achieved no matter what the words.

What does all of this have to do with leadership?  Good question.

As I thought about this while preparing for a few Christmas events, I came to realize that as leaders, we appreciate many things at face value because we surround ourselves with the right people (hopefully) and so, give 'artistic license' to those around us.  We may forego investigation and research because we feel the experts know what they are doing.  There are times when, as leaders, we need to do that extra step and be certain we have covered all of our bases.  We need to know that while our thoughts and knowledge may be one thing, that validation or at least more perspective is necessary (I can site the latest news in Ontario about Ornge, where millions of dollars in payouts and more was simply ignored by the Minister in charge of the investigation!)

So Bob's tail rings, bob-tail rings or bob tails ring - really not the issue...the next steps are, especially in reaching the desired outcome.

Think about the current projects that are active in your business.  Where are they now?  Are you sure they are progressing?  Is there a stuck point that is being driven by artistic license and not necessarily focused on the outcome.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

2014: The Year of Brave

If you have been around for a while, following this blog, you know that I often have themes to my business or even my life.  Since the passing of Steve Jobs, and having read the biography, my life has been focused on 'simple, simplicity & simplify!'  I am amazed at the strides I have made to clear clutter, eliminate toxins, find peace, remove strangleholds and even create new projects.  WOW!

So, as we are heading into a new year I am working through business planning and next steps, finding that it is time to take a few leaps.  I am filling my backpack with tools and lot of courage, because as I have been told,
what doesn't kill you makes you stronger - I am going to jump into bravery!
my new theme for the foreseeable future is:

Now sure, there is even a theme song - thanks to Sara Barielles.  And I plan on using this word 'brave' as a measuring stick to see how far I am pushing myself - new things, face challenges, reaching out, stretching myself, becoming my best ME!

I heard a fabulous statement this week from Shelley Fellows at Radix.  Her words were "scary, unusual and ambitious" - this is what I will strive for in 2014.

What is your plan for 2014?  Do you have a theme?  Do you know how you are going to start January 1st and end December 31st?  Let's talk - I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Guest Post: The Driven Leader

A Guest Post from my friend Rich Berdan

While first impressions of a new leader, whether a regional manager, or that of a VP or President beset on middle managers and employees in the nooks and crannies of the business is crucial to the beholder’s level of engagement; it is the meaningful relationships afterwards that will tell the story of the agenda driven leader (ADL) versus a principled driven leader (PDL). That first or even second meeting is less discernible with the hype and excitement of a new leader on stage waving flags and kissing babies; and it is only after the honeymoon that the real ‘you’ becomes evident.

It is now time for the new leader on the scene to earn his or her keep; and the rank and file are now witnessing the between the lines realities; and whether the leader is delivering on the initial propositions advocated to motivate the onlookers. 

One might surmise the credibility of one writing on this topic. Being around for half a century from humble beginnings with a mattress, 9 inch black and white TV, and a high school education to my name in a city and country with no family, and working as a teenager in a difficult factory alongside 5,000 hardened men for 8 years to every retail position from a cart collector to a regional manager representing 40 stores in five districts, it was the 24/7 blood and sweat in remaining honest to a modest principle –that is never having too much to forget and having enough to be thankful. While more could be said, the stripes earned through past experience should permit a fair analysis between the ADL and the PDL. 

In heeding the ADL, we observe them sharing their plans with great exuberance, and seeking approval and one’s participation in the near future only to never hear back on playing an integral part in the rollout of the program. On the other hand, the PDL seeks the contribution and proposals from the associates on-the-ground who best understand the roadblocks facing the business. The buy in has been bought through diverse inclusion. 

This ADL tends to send out numerous emails sharing relevant information in the business or related profession; however for some reason emails with subordinates tend to flow in only one direction on the one-way cyber street. Little thought of appreciation and recognition is given to the outranked messages and shared ideas; while the PDL responds in kindness and an honest evaluation whether the promptings are of little or no great value. 

While the above situations are mere examples of what an ADL may demonstrate, it is much more amplified in what they do not do relative to the PDL. This leader is genuine in reaching out to the employees who are the backbone in the business or facility. Not only does the leader take the time to seek out the foot soldiers of the business and thank them for doing what they do; but they also take a sincere interest in the challenges in completing their daily tasks, and witness the leader’s sense of urgency in resolving the issues by making a call on the spot. This type of action sends positive shock waves through the employee break room. 

The PDL takes it one step further when he or she discovers an employee who is of no pressing concern moments prior to the meeting, displays great empathy over a condition the employee is tackling; whether it is an ailing family member or a sudden illness facing them down. A follow up call to the employee by the PDL inquiring on how they are progressing drives very deep in making a personal deposit in the employee’s emotional bank account. 

One more example of the PDL is when an employee shares an idea or an activity that improves their personal development; and the leader takes notice by encouraging the associate to keep their foot to the aspirational pedal, and requests the employee to provide him or her with updates can go miles in driving one’s passion and dreams to success. A president I know recognized that everyone has a story, and he was not only interested in hearing the story but would often become part of the story by demonstrating his support whether tangible or through kind words. 

It is the ADL that employees fail to recognize or remember, and make comments that they never see him or her on the floor. They tend to miss the opportunities to address the employees in a large setting and employee rallies where they can express their heartfelt appreciation for the efforts and success they have achieved as a team; and somehow find their way to the front office with little to no interaction and positive employee engagement. 

There was one district manager in a big box retail company that I knew who would arrive for a store visit very early in the morning to thank the overnight stocking and freight flow team for preparing the store for the day’s business and welcome the arriving associates entering the store prior to store opening. This made him approachable and one of the team –a big hit across the company and promotions to follow. There was also a store manager that I knew that made a concerted effort to publicly sing happy birthday to associates in the watchful presence of customers. He had a terrible singing voice that made one wince, but that made it even more sincere and fun. He has also moved on quite well in his career. 

The PDL of very high regard will take it one step further by recognizing the ADL amongst the team and make a choice through their understanding not to judge them as a requirement of their position but rather to be blind to their personal verdict; and give way to the plea of generosity in supporting the ADL in their quest to be a valued member of the team. 

It’s the principled driven leader that has garnished additional favour through numerous deposits into the emotional bank accounts of the employees that will see his or her agenda quickly advanced through an army of loyal associates when they have instituted and followed the key principle –they never forget where they came from in a life time of learning, listening, and serving through the many promotions.

Rich Berdan
Human Resources Professional

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Success Takes Time

The road to success is long....it truly is a journey.
As leaders, our focus should be on success everyday - no matter how tiny or seemingly insignificant - the simple fact that we continue to have forward momentum is clearly the point of what we do.

How to build that forward momentum you ask?  Here are a few ideas that could work (especially heading into preparation for the new year):

  1. define what success looks like -  a visual picture that you can describe is helpful to all around you
  2. team meetings to ensure that everyone is on the same page - it is worth the time, effort and dollars to have a facilitated session that focuses everyone on priorities
  3. provide recognition along the way - letting team members know (and reminding yourself too) that accomplishments have been made help everyone see momentum building
  4. provide a visual image of progress like a thermometer or a speedometer that can be coloured in, showing progress to key milestones
  5. make course corrections quickly - having checkpoints with key leaders or owners of goals can help with debriefing and verifying that everyone is still on track, providing assistance and feedback quickly
  6. work hard to eliminate 'shiny objects' that can create sidetracking that does not keep the focus on the goals at hand.  This can be done by using a 'parking lot' for items or opportunities that do not align and at the same time could be good for the business in the future...bring them up after the first goals are accomplished to see where they fit.
It's hard work staying on the track to success.  Focus is required.  Tell me some ways in which you maintain your focus along the way.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What to Tell the Emerging Leader

There are 2 very simple phrases that an emerging leader (and all leaders for that matter) need to focus on as they move through their journey.  They both come from Mark Sanborn - I love to hear him speak and read his books - especially FRED,

  1. Leaders don't just tell a better story, they make the story better.
  2. The Leader's job is to help people see their significance - even in ways they may not realize.
Simple - think about this today as you get on your way....and in every interaction you have.
Who have you recognized today? Who have you helped see their significance?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

GUEST BLOG: Are You Leading?

This is a guest post from my friend Rich Berdan - we spent a great deal of time with each other in past lives and learned a ton together!

Thanks Rich, for the lessons & the post!

Are You Leading?

The art of inspiring others

In the drive to lead in a big box store – or an entire company for that matter – the aspiring manager begins to lose his or her technical expertise. At the same time, the human relations side of their role grows to a point where it is no longer possible to perform the day-to-day tactical functions, and the leader can no longer rely exclusively on their own skills and resources to accomplish tasks. Once a manager reaches this pinnacle of his or her career, the individual either becomes a true leader and accomplishes the big things through others or becomes unsuccessful because they have failed to master the art of inspiring others.

The new leader is quickly tested, and unless he or she is a skilled leader, negativity breeds among employees, and the organization is likely to implode from within at some point due to issues such as employee turnover, poor morale, absenteeism, workplace accidents, and diminishing productivity, sales, and profits. In dealing with such problems, a leader must become increasingly agile and responsive.
It also becomes necessary for the leader to promote a certain amount of open, transparent and healthy conflict in dealing with issues.

Techniques such as focus group meetings and an open door policy allow for issues and grievances to be aired publicly and constructively so that disgruntled employees feel free to speak candidly and openly.

Once grievances have been aired, clear and decisive action on the part of the management team and the quick implementation of solutions agreed upon by all parties go a long way. Even “quick wins” should be communicated throughout the organization – whether at all-employee meetings or more informally through discussions in the lunchroom or on the sales floor. This is a skillful approach that can eventually lead to naysayers throughout the organization being silenced.

The next step for our leader is to create positive thinking and morale in the organization. The principle is this: Enthusiasm is contagious. Eventually when the optimistic enthusiasm reaches a high enough temperature, the fire becomes self-generating.

It is then critical to place enthusiastic performers in key areas to be that “burning charcoal” that ignites others and creates a sustainable fire. Senior managers who are not enthusiastic in their approach to leading the organization will be left alone to see the flame slowly flicker and eventually go out.

'Igniting’ other employees

One new manager I knew came into a store where there was poor morale, specifically on the overnight shift where the employees stocking the shelves each night were the unnoticed backbone of the store's success. This store manager made the key decision to come in early before the end of the shift and “high five” a lonely employee in one of the aisles stocking shelves for a job well done and to express his appreciation for the employee’s efforts.

A funny thing happened the next day when the store manager arrived early in the morning. The employee who received the high five the previous day was peering down the aisle in anticipation of the manager's early morning walk by. When the manager approached the employee, he was pleasantly surprised that the employee had increased his productivity substantially and was proud to show off his best work. Another big high five followed and they were now connected in achieving mutual goals of respect and a well-stocked store ready for customers.

In the above example, one “hot coal” ignited another employee and things heated up. The stocker, who at one point was a disengaged employee, was noticed, recognized, and is now a high performing assistant manager. By the way, the store manager is now a district manager. What makes a great leader memorable is the time they spend developing the next great leaders who speak profoundly of the influence their mentors had on them during their careers.

Unintended consequences of negative behaviour

Another store manager more focused on his technical skills was pulling a skid of merchandise down an aisle and scowled as he walked past a department manager working in her department. She thought she had done something wrong and was visibly upset. Shortly afterwards, the store manager was asked why he had scowled at the employee, and he explained that he was not pleased with a featured display producing very little sales and had no idea the employee was nearby or had seen him demonstrate his frustration. The department manager shared her experience with others in the lunchroom and continued to be a mediocre performer. The store manager did not create an environment of contagious enthusiasm and eventually burned out and left the business.

A positive organizational culture

The positive culture cemented in the fabric of an organization becomes quickly evident when a new employee is hired and easily falls in line with the values that instill respect for the individual, consistency, a strong work ethic, confidence in one's skills, and eliminating frustration that results in excessive turnover.

In essence, the employee should enjoy coming to work when that work intertwines purpose and fun. The enthusiastic fire becomes a self-generating furnace that pumps out “hot” employees ready to perform.

On the other hand, if the culture is mired in confusion and a lack of any real leadership, the new employee will not perform at a level of excellence and a sense of urgency. New employees joining a team simply become assimilated into the existing culture, and resistance is futile.

Leaders need to ensure members of their management team know what is expected, whether executing the tasks at hand, providing superior customer service or demonstrating values, respect and a strong commitment to a superior work ethic that sets the example for all to follow. They will, in most cases, go to great lengths to live up to those expectations and do a good job if they are provided with the proper environment. Any non-compliance needs to addressed expeditiously, or a splinter of issues will begin to widen further until band-aid solutions can no longer heal the cultural wound of accepting mediocrity, which can lead to the eventual collapse of the business unit or the entire operation.

During tough economic times, the organizations and business units that succeed are those where a distinct culture of contagious enthusiasm and positive employee engagement thrives within the organization.

It all starts with a leader. So, are you leading?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Change Makes Us

Change can be like shouting at the wind.
You have done it...with very little results.

As leaders, our role is to envision change, get people on-board with the change and help them to implement it.

Change sucks.  Change is uncomfortable.  Change is irritating.
Change means investment of time and energy.
Change means talking, communicating, listening.
Change could mean re-development or re-organization.
Change could mean some people leave us....team members or clients or vendors.
Change is scary.

Change is what makes us who we are.
Change is what separates us from the rest.
We are not satisfied with the status quo.
We are not ready to commit to okay.
We are not going to let well enough alone when we know it can be better.

Go ahead!  Tackle it.  And as Seth Godin says 'ship!'

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Teams in Action

I have been working with a few new tools - all from Actionable Books  and they are super.

The focus of the tools is 'actionable' workshops.

In our busy lives, we know we need to continue to develop ourselves and our teams - what the collection of workshops can do for you and your organization is provide you with a series of 'lunch & learn' type sessions that can tackle specific opportunities...in your team...in your business....and beyond.

And the best part - they take an hour or less!  In my toolbox I call the events
How to BUILD IT - Inspired Teams

Stay tuned for more information on how to explore this opportunity, how to participate in a public session and event attend a 1/2 day workshop that will get you set up to BUILD IT.

If you have questions in the meantime or want to know more, drop me a line here....and I will be happy to explain more details (ahead of the launch!)

As leaders, we are always seeking new ways to keep our teams engaged.  This is a simple way to provide development opportunities as well as enhance engagement that will retain your top talent.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Greatful or Grateful?

Every once in a while, I get sappy....and you, my dear readers, get to benefit from that.
This is always an emotional week for me, right around Thanksgiving, because it is the time of year when my oldest son was born.  On Wednesday he turned 21.

He is GREAT!  Like totally cool, Tony-the-Tiger GREAT! (this is not just because I am his mom - if you ever meet him you will agree!  Ask his boss!!)

I try to make this day extra special.  A birthday is the most important day of the year - this is the day each of us were put on earth to make a difference.

I almost lost him at his arrival into this world.  And in his teen years, we were forced to face that again with another health problem.  I am blessed everyday to see his smiling face.  I am grateful for his greatfulness.

Making this day special is simple - favourite foods, time together (usually shopping) and of course lots of hugs and kisses.  On our way to Freed's on Wednesday, my son made a few very interesting and mature statements.
  1. I can't believe I am 21 & can drink in the States.
  2. I have a really wonderful life and you and stepdad have allowed me to be me, and inspired me to be more like both of you.
  3. I am truly blessed to have a great family, great friends, a super girlfriend & great marks at school.
  4. I am feeling so grateful for everything.
  5. I need to take more time to reflect on everything I have, it inspires me to go for more.
Please don't take this as bragging about my son.  This was a revelation to me....I know I can see the impact of my work with my business clients....my life work of raising cool kids with great spirits and hearts...when it stands in front of you and says these words with meaning and tears in his eyes lets me know that my reach is further than I can even imagine.

Take a moment this weekend and reflect on the impact you have on the people around you.  A very smart person told me that you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with...so that means you are part of their 'sum'....how do you make a difference for them?

Happy Thanksgiving....and I am grateful to you for being part of my life.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Complicated? Well, Yes and No

Leadership can be complicated.  It can be difficult to figure out....in last year's Leadercast event we focused on the topic of "Simply Lead".  Speakers of all avenues of work and life talked about how to create more simplicity, eliminate the clutter and find order in the chaos.

As leaders we need to realize a few things:

  1. life happens
  2. chaos is a regular state
  3. at the end of the day  - we can only control our reactions to all of this around us
So, if we are the only ones who can control our reactions, actions or choices, what have we done to create that simple space in our lives to process all of this.

So yes - leadership is complicated.

And no, we don't have to leave it that way.  We can create our own simplicity by doing a few really simple things:
  1. get some sleep...our brains and our bodies need to recharge and process (I am constantly amazed at the great work I can complete at 5am ...the same work that was most likely driving me crazy the afternoon before)
  2. dump out what is floating around in our heads - we are always thinking - new ideas, problem-solving and creating.....by dumping them out onto a flipchart, iPad, sharing with others (including a coach, like me!) can help us sort and compartmentalize or prioritize what should take place next
  3. exercise - the energy we build from good cardio and strength work outs is really an opportunity to clear our minds and focus on something completely different while taking care of ourselves and even pushing us to new limits (something leaders need to be challenged to do)
  4. stop & listen -  taking time with your team, your mentor, your family and friends engaged in good conversation means staying present and listening.  This again is focused attention...a great way to take a break from the complicated leadership lives we lead and streamline our breathing by engaging with others- and we may learn things too.
So - yes and no - leadership can be complicated if we allow it to be.  Try not to, okay?

PS - had to do a shameful plug on dumping out your thoughts with me because many clients  say this is one of the greatest values they get from our coaching relationship.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Compare Cookies to People

Oh, it would be so cool if we could make dollars like cookies!
(okay, I realize that is a different take on 'printing money')
Why I use this analogy is because we often think that we can hire the right people by developing a cookie cutter outline of who we are looking to put into place.

Often, I work with team leaders who need to hire.  They already have in their mind exactly who they are looking for from a personality level.  They seem to not step back and determine who they need from the skill gaps they have in their organization.  It can be quite interesting and quite a waste of dollars when that happens.

Here are some questions I ask my clients who are in need of new team members at any level:

  1. what skills are required - that is usually outlined in the job description
  2. what type of person fits into the culture
  3. what is missing from the organization at the moment - skills or attributes
  4. are you interested in hiring someone like the last person in the role - specifically what was good about that person and what needed improvement
  5. are you filling a role or replacing a person - that is completely 2 different things
Using a cookie cutter to define people will not work.  Then you have the same face, attitude and productivity right across the board.  Not only that, do you really want all the same type of creativity, sense of urgency and motivation or are you looking to create a diverse team that reflects the attitude of your clients along with stretching you to think differently.  You cannot do that with a cookie cutter.  And it is a complete waste of money.......

Tell me how you go about bringing new people on board.  (not the on-boarding process, that is a whole different subject) but recruiting or finding the right talent to fill the roles in your organization.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What Are You Risking?

Leaps of Faith come in many varieties.
Sometimes it's financial - do we invest in that technology today or tomorrow?
Sometimes it's personal - do I trust them with this information?
Sometimes it's physical - do I try this?
Sometimes it's mental - do I have what it takes?

All risks cannot be categorized....some risks we don't even want to talk about because we hava buried them so deep.

Leaders take risks.  Good leaders, just like the entrepreneurial spirits they are, find ways to calculate the risk.

  • is it good for my people?  team, clients, family, community
  • will the outcome create a lasting benefit or is this a one-shot deal?
  • does the opportunity to take the risk advance me or my organization? and which is more important for this objective?
  • can taking this risk impair our future?
  • does this risk align with our mission & values and equally important, our vision?
  • is the cost of this risk worth it? in time, money, change strategy
Lots of things to consider.  To continue to grow as leaders, we need to develop a serious way to calculate risks in order to determine their worth - to ourselves & our organizations.

How do you calculate risks? Or do you even stop to measure, simply forging ahead?

Friday, September 27, 2013

The People in Our Lives

I liked this image of people....kind of interesting shapes, looking and moving in different ways and in different directions.  This is like our life & our leadership.  Especially our personal leadership.

I know I have mentioned in the past that I recognize that you cannot be two different people ---- one at work and one in your personal life - all of your attributes carry over.  Seeing the people in the image above got me thinking about this and family and teams.

Why family and teams, you ask?

  • Well, the people in the images all have similarities and yet, they are not exactly the same.  They are going in different directions and as families go, that happens as they grow up.   So at work, our teams can be thought of as a family - we may not all resemble each other physically but we are in the same place, of similar mindset/values and sometimes even dress alike with t-shirts etc.
  • Some people are moving and some are standing still. - examine your family and see where that is happening (you will be surprised).  How about your project teams or people at work?  This same thought applies.
  • Some are foggy, out of focus.  In our families we have people we do not understand or don't know what to make of them....they seem disconnected almost.  Some may have done this to themselves...and others simply by physical distance or by the fact that a virtual team is in place and they may never have met.
Funny how families and teams have such a great deal in common....now when you layer leadership on top of that....is how you lead in your worklife the same as how you lead in your family life?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lost & Found

Leadership is not easy.  There are many pressures on leaders to change their course, give up the vision, change the mission, give in to the dollars, let rulers and despots create dictatorships.

The challenge is truly, to be yourself.  be the leader you know you can be...
...the thoughtful
...the methodical
...the funny
...the creative
...the focused
...the empathetic
...the lover of people
...the enabler of great deeds by others
....the passion-driven entrepreneur
...the listener
...the dreamer
...the one who lends a hand
....the visionary

Be YOU!   Besides, why would you want to be someone else?  You are awesome.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Leaders Protect

One of our roles as leaders, parents and people of the universe is to protect (love) those around us.  Especially those for whom we have been given charge.

Thinking about all the tragedies that have taken place recently - the Boston Marathon Bombings, Sandy Hook, The Navy Yard Shootings and even Jeffery Baldwin at 6 years old make many hearts heavy and creates worry and sadness that is hard to work with.

I remember where I was at the moment the planes hit the Twin Towers all those years ago.  I know that I am fortunate to not have been affected as terribly as some.  I also know I was with my youngest son practicing emergency safety for bus transit as a kindergarten child.  His first full day at school with his full class.  To see the innocence and lack of understanding in the eyes of the kids mixed with the tears and gasps of the parents and teachers as we heard the news and prayed - I can still feel it today, and yes there are tears here as I write.

As leaders, our focus needs to be the hearts of others. If we can help them by protecting their hearts, we can create great leaders around us.

Protecting their hearts means focusing them on thoughtfulness and intention; on anticipating the results of their words and actions; to live with passion and do what they love; to listen, period; to be an example for others, mentoring and coaching others along the way even if that means having honest conversations; of learning to give first and expect nothing in return and of being aware that although dollars drive the bottom-line, people with hearts make the business beat and thrive.

Take time to think of those around you today.  Who do you protect?  We know we cannot protect them - any of them -  from everything.  Being grateful and being there is a great place to start.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cookie Cutter Leadership

Cookie Cutter leadership is an oxymoron....it cannot actually ever happen.
In a world where leadership means everything, companies (especially retailers) are working very hard to create recipes that allow for little creativity and leadership skill.  The role of a leader in this environment is to implement the plan.....and to the letter, without straying....or you will find yourself looking for a new cookbook.

Why is that?
Well - it is easier to make sure everything looks the same, the same standards, the same visual representation, the same processes.  I can tell you that some of this makes sense - especially in the process area where a great deal of time and money has surely been spent so that best practices can be implemented across the board to create efficiencies.

I do have issue with the confusion of leadership with management.  If you are following the recipe, then you are really simply managing.

Leading is visionary.  It is about taking risks.  It is about empowering others and developing leaders around you.  It is about seeing the trends and being ready for them or getting out ahead of them.  Leading is the relentless pursuit of excellence.

Managing is checking the boxes.  Making sure the to do lists are done.  Following the system and not deviating, no risks allowed.  Managing is maintaining the status quo.

Think about yourself.  Are you the cookie cutter? Or the one who breaks the mould?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Does Your Office Look Like This?

There are days when it looks like this.
There are days when it feels like this?
I like this image because at least all the stickies are colour co-ordinated and orderly.
I have a much more random look to my clutter.
These sticky notes usually represent a reminder of something you need to do or follow up.  By color there could be some level of importance or priority applied.

Just looking at this makes me want to clean my office!!!

So what can you do to stop the multiplication of stickies?

  1. Take a picture of your sticky notes and the scene they create around you.  This will help mitigate future sticky multiplication.
  2. Look at each one to make sure they really belong to you - not needing to be delegated to someone else.
  3. Talk through the prioritization with someone else to get their perspective on your opportunities and challenges.
  4. Do one at a time - you will feel a greater sense of accomplishment if you get one thing done completely and then move onto the next.
  5. Take a photo the new space minus the sticky notes.
When all the stickies are cleared up (or at least at a more manageable state), reflect on how you got there, using the before photo as an inspiration to jog your memory.  List 3 things you could do and attach both the before and after photos to the list.  Use this list often!!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Back to What?

This is the wrap up day to the week that hits everyone as the month of August ends and we move to September.  (You can't say that Summer is over because the Equinox is not until September 22nd).

What is really happening?  And as a leader, how can you help move your team....and yourself to grasp the next month and move forward.

It always feels like there is a ramp-up period...gratefulness that there are only 4 working days in this week.  Personally, I found myself torn between having lots of energy and setting off on new adventures of my own and then wishing I was my 21-year old son starting classes next week.

So there is a lot to handle (what else is new).
This time of year:

  • we regroup and refresh, tackling left over projects with renewed gusto
  • we have to focus on the changes that are happening around us ( to us & others) like first days of school (and parent-angst..been there, done that, have the t-shirt and pinky hugs), to new starts to chapters in our lives (retirement or career shifts)
  • we are planning how to end this current year and hit our benchmarks - personal, professional and the rest
  • we are deciding what needs to be budgeted and planned for next year.
With all this going on, emotions on high and change running rampant, as a leader, what can you do to support your team and clients?
Ask the following questions of each of them:
  1. What would you like to accomplish by the end of September?
  2. What would you like to accomplish by the end of the year?
  3. What obstacles do you foresee?
  4. How can I help you get there?
Once you have helped others get this into place, it will be more clear where you need to head too.

Have fun...and like Kevin in the cartoon, keep the umbrella up & the ice cream handy!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Adding Value

What is it about adding value that makes people think they are giving the farm away for free?
When I think about all the questions I have asked as I was setting up my business, the people who took me in hand and shared thoughts & ideas, even those who provided some tough-to-hear feedback, not only am I grateful, I think of them first when referring work to others.

See, the idea of adding value is not about the concept of 'free' but about the concept of 'sharing'.  When you were younger, I am certain you were taught to share.  Expecting perhaps a thank-you in return, or in fact, nothing at all because sharing was/is the right thing to do.  This applies to business, leadership and life as well.  As I have mentioned before, it is very difficult to live your life in separate ways, so the habits we build in our daily lives completely translate to our professional lives.

Sharing is really adding value.  Here are a few ways to build this habit:

  • if you see an article that applies to a client, prospect or colleague, send it along to them with a note about why you think this is an important read for them
  • congratulate them on a press release or successful endeavour - it shows you are paying attention and care about their success
  • take someone for coffee just because you would like to learn more about them 
  • share a book that taught you something
  • say thank you for a specific outcome or task
  • provide more detail or resources than expected in a report or proposal
It's the little things that make a difference.  Adding value does not need to be in huge heaps - being consistent will make this a habit and you will become known for stepping up and out in creative ways that draw people to you.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Inspiration Hits When It Needs To

August has been an interesting month.  So many new things on the go that I fear I may lose track.  And not only that but I need to remain in the mode of creating so that I can continue to work and help my clients find their own successes.

It is not as easy as sharpening your pencil and getting started in the next thing, all the time.  Sometimes is takes a break to find that inspiration is coming back to you.  It could take a change of scenery....right now I am in Toronto and love the energy, the visuals, the beat and the people. This mental break is more than feeing me up to see things differently, it is also allowing my mind to  unfocus so that I can refocus.

For the last few weeks I have been struggling to create a name for an organization I would like to start that will focus on the skills leaders of today & tomorrow will need to build so that they can truly become leaders worth following.  Finally, engrossed in the sounds of the city. My husband hits upon a brilliant idea and the name has now been narrowed down to 2 separate but similar ideas.  Whew! (I will post this shortly, I promise).  All this because of a quick change of frame of reference.

What do you do when you need the jolt of inspiration?  How do you get refreshed to find focus?  Ah-ha moments are sometimes difficult to come by!

Friday, August 9, 2013

5 Things to Do After It Comes All Together

Okay, BREAK!
The plan is in place, the job is to go execute.
It has all come together.......after a great deal of negotiation, compromise and long meetings, your team has arrived at the point of implementation.

Now what?
Well, a few things need to happen:

  1. you need to communicate the vision to the rest of the organization, getting everyone to see how they fit into the big picture
  2. you need to ensure that you have built in time to reconnect and regroup, ensuring that everyone stays on the same page
  3. you need to make sure you have a formula in place to deal with obstacles (weekly meetings, an online reporting platform, a 5-minute check in every morning, as examples)
  4. you need to celebrate the successes along the way, especially as other team members get on board with the plan
  5. you need to share experiences so that everyone stays engaged and continues with the plan, eventually developing this habit
This is by no means a comprehensive list, although it is a good place to start.  Tweaking and adding the this outline so that it becomes a model for your specific plan/change/launch will help you get everyone moving in the same direction.....forward!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Your Personal Board of Directors

It's that time of year.....In the Fall we develop and get our newest Mastermind Teams in place.  This is the perfect time to start a team because we are quickly approaching the end of the year and that means there are lots of facets of the business that need either ramping up, tying up or giving up.  Sometimes these decisions are hard to make.  Sometimes you don't know where to start.  Sometimes you want to run it past others that may have experienced the same or similar situations and get their take on it.

Well, that is exactly what a Mastermind Team can do for you.  Many of my clients, as well as many people around the world have benefited from the masterminding process and helped themselves and their business grow.

There are a variety of types of mastermind teams in the world today - some ad hoc, some very formal, some quarterly, others monthly, even weekly.

If you are interested in exploring a mastermind team - you can visit this link or you can simply drop me a note and I will connect with you to discuss your questions and thoughts (even connect you to a few references if you like).

As business leaders, and sometimes in unique roles where we need a sounding board or even a place to vent and re-align our thoughts, a mastermind team provides this safe and confidential environment with non-competing business leaders to get us through brainstorming solutions to problems and issues that arise in our business.  Sometimes we just can't do the same in-house....

It's time to get your seat - they are limited.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Do You Hustle?

There can be many connations for the word 'hustle'.  I like to think of this as sense of urgency, action not reaction, thinking & creating instead of standing and waiting.

Do you hustle?
Do you reach out and meet people?
Do you stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone?
Do you follow up and do what you said you would do?
Do you actively participate?
Are you present?

In the world of leadership, the world of business and in your own life, this is what HUSTLE is.....are you doing it?

If not, what is getting in your way?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Monday???? Already???

I know it's not Monday, but why do some days always feel like they are, a client asked me recently.
In our discussion, we got down to the nitty-gritty - it is the fact that when we are not organized, it always feels like we are starting from scratch - like the never-ending Groundhog Day scenario.

What are a few ways we can avoid this overwhelming feeling of panic:

    1. get organized - I know, easier said than done! in the last 6 months I have focused on testing out online tools, apps and cloud solutions that could help me get better at staying organized.  Let's face it, most of us can get organized, it's building the habit that needs the work.  Let me know if you would like me to share my tools with you - they are working!
    2. get help - have the right people doing the work for you.  This makes sense, even if pennies are being pinched, you need to focus on doing what you do best...let others do the same for you.  The sense of relief is awesome, as well as the opportunity to have new ideas enter into your business.
    3. get some peace - take a breath every morning before you jump in and do what bothers you the most. Once this is out of the way, the rest seems to lead to a more peaceful day (many call this the 'eat that frog' scenario).  The conclusion to this is to check off everything you did today or make a list so that you can see that you are moving forward
Last - and certainly not least - STOP comparing what you do to what everyone else does.  You are unique. You work in a different way.  Your goals are your own.  Some people are morning people, some are not.  The sooner we each face this reality, the better off we will be and the 'everyday is Monday' will no longer create panic but allow us to embrace what we are working on in this moment.

Friday, July 26, 2013

What Gets Repeated Gets Remembered

I am not sure if I can say it any more clearly than that!
This is a must - everyday.
Find tools, use post-it notes, set reminders in your phone, there are apps out there...... tell others to hold you accountable for it, but at the end, whatever you do... 
(the money is only in the list if you follow up the list)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Your Business Is Growing Up

With the announcement of the birth of the new baby prince of England, and the fact that everything is growing like crazy outside because of the rain and sun, I started to think about how my business is growing up!  It is amazing how time flies.  Have you stopped to take stock in the following:

  1. What you and your team have accomplished in the past 12 months?
  2. The clients you have attracted?
  3. The new processes you have developed?
  4. The efficiencies you have created?
  5. The money you have made?
Reflecting on the growth chart above - where do you see your business?
Is your business still a fledgling, learning to walk before it can run?
Is your business getting ready for the next phase of life like going off to school - elementary or secondary?
Is your business showing off it's drivers license, ready to take on the outside world without protection from the parents?
Is your business moving to new areas?
Is your business ready to retire and start a new chapter?

Lots to consider when you look at the phases through which your business will pass.  It takes time and dedication, heart and soul to get it to where it is today.  What does tomorrow look like? How will you get it there?

I have been revising my Q4 plan for 2013 and putting all of 2014 on paper.  It is a great process - I love this time of year.  I would be happy to share this process with you - let me know if you are interested.  See, with nothing on paper to which to compare your actual numbers and activities, your business will perhaps grow in odd direction, not like you wanted it too.  With a plan in place, at least you can guide your success and measure your business growth and personal development.  Without a plan, how will you know if you are ready to retire?